Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Moderate treadmill running exercise prior to tendon injury enhances wound healing in aging rats

Jianying Zhang _, Ting Yuan and James H-C. Wang

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:8498-8512. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7381

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Jianying Zhang1, Ting Yuan1,2 and James H-C. Wang1

1 MechanoBiology Laboratory, Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Shanghai Sixth People’s Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai, Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China

Correspondence to:

James H-C. Wang, email:

Keywords: aging rat, tendon stem cell, treadmill running, proliferation, wound healing, Gerotarget

Received: January 07, 2016 Accepted: January 30, 2016 Published: February 14, 2016


The effect of exercise on wound healing in aging tendon was tested using a rat moderate treadmill running (MTR) model. The rats were divided into an MTR group that ran on a treadmill for 4 weeks and a control group that remained in cages. After MTR, a window defect was created in the patellar tendons of all rats and wound healing was analyzed. We found that MTR accelerated wound healing by promoting quicker closure of wounds, improving the organization of collagen fibers, and decreasing senescent cells in the wounded tendons when compared to the cage control. MTR also lowered vascularization, increased the numbers of tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSCs) and TSC proliferation than the control. Besides, MTR significantly increased the expression of stem cell markers, OCT-4 and Nanog, and tenocyte genes, Collagen I, Collagen III and tenomodulin, and down-regulated PPAR-γ, Collagen II and Runx-2 (non-tenocyte genes). These findings indicated that moderate exercise enhances healing of injuries in aging tendons through TSC based mechanisms, through which exercise regulates beneficial effects in tendons. This study reveals that appropriate exercise may be used in clinics to enhance tendon healing in aging patients.

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